My husband and I have been going to Carlyle Grand Cafe for years, and have had some terrific food, service and dining experience and, at other times, only so-so. There are things that the restaurant can fix and we wish they wood, because this is basically a good place to go for any occasion.
The good is a nicely balanced menu, with seafood/fish alternatives, meat alternatives and a few (but only a few) vegetarian alternatives. Their nightly specials are always interesting and we've rarely been disappointed. Service is generally quite good.
On the other hand, from time to time our experience has been less enjoyable, and a recent night shows how there are easy fixes that we think are general fixes, that would make Carlyle Grand really stand out. First, there is too much salt in many of the dishes. We had the grilled salmon--nicely done fish but the topping was so salty that the fish was inedible. Second, although our waiter hovered and from time to time interrupted our conversation to ask if the food was fine (memo to waiter: don't do that!), he failed to notice the timing of our consumption of our appetizers, so that the main dishes were brought to the table before we'd finished the first course. They took the food back, but we all were not convinced that they'd not merely re-heated the original food, since both fish dishes were a bit more dry than ordered. Lastly, and by no means is Carlyle Grand the only restaurant to do this--please don't ask to clear the plates until everyone is finished. The servers at Carlyle Grand must have asked us 5-6 times if they could clear but each time we said we'd prefer to wait until the final one of us was finished. We felt as if they wanted to rush us out of there, or needed our plates because they'd run out!
As I said, relatively "little" things that the restaurant could fix that would make the dining experience there so special. All in all, good food and nice people, efficiently run, and the outdoor area is great in the warmer months. Carlyle Grand is an institution and a good choice in the Shirlington neighborhood--always has been and probably always will be.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.